COSHH Safety – A Brief Guide To COSHH
Industrial working environments are prone to having substances hazardous to health, hence why COSHH safety guidelines are provided. COSHH stands for Control of Substances Hazardous to Health and is a regulation that was introduced back in 2002. It provides guidance on how employers can protect their employees whilst dealing with hazardous substances at work. The inability to deal with it sufficiently can result in lost productivity to your business, claims being made against you from your employees and put you at legal risk under the COSHH Regulations Act.
What Substances Are Classed As Hazardous Under COSHH Safety?
There are many examples of substances that can be harmful under COSHH regulations. These are as follows:
- Substances that are used in work activity e.g. paints and cleaning agents
- Fumes that are generated from soldering or welding
- Bacteria and micro-organism agents
What Are The Effects Of These Substances?
Large exposure to such substances that can be harmful to health can lead to many health effects for individuals. These can include:
- Skin irritation from substances that have made contact with the skin
- Development of asthma from air pollution generated from substances that have escaped into the air
- Toxic fumes can lead to unconsciousness
- Long term effects can include cancer if it’s consistent exposure over time
- Infection caused by bacteria and biological agents.
What Does COSHH Safety Require In Order For You to Comply?
In order for businesses to comply with COSHH, the following steps need to be followed:
Assess The Risks: You need to identify whether the risks involved with the substances that you’re using. Consider whether there are fumes, vapours and waste materials that are present in the workplace. Also, who is exposed to these substances; is it workers, staff, visitors, cleaners etc. Just how strong are these substances and will they provide long-term and short-term health risks.
What Precautions Are Required: If there are risks involved with these substances, what are the steps you need to take in order to reduce them or remove them from the premises? You’d also need to record and assess these precautions and what steps are being taken to prevent harm from occurring.
Control/Prevent The Exposure: The COSHH safety regulations require you to prevent exposure of the substances to make sure the substances don’t become hazardous to health. You can do this by changing the process, replacing the substance or using a safer form of it.
Maintain Control Measures Regularly: As an employer, it’s your job to make sure whatever control measures are in place, they are followed and appropriate supervision is provided. This is why training is essential for employees that they can report or deal with the measures when required to.
As part of COSHH, you have to measure the concentration of substances to ensure that the levels are not serious to health. This should also be recorded for the benefit of the business as well as employees.
Carry Out Health Surveillance: This involves introducing a doctor or nurse that can carry out checks on employees for various conditions. Keeping a health record of this is essential as it’s required by COSHH.
Outline Plans For Dealing With Accidents and Incidents: This is where you would prepare procedures and put in the relevant safety procedures to deal with incident occurrences and making sure those who require to see it, can and it can be performed correctly. Any ‘safety drills’ should also be practised routinely so they can be performed accurately.
Ensure All Employees Are Trained and Supervised: You should be providing your staff with the relevant information in order to remain safe. They should be fully informed on information surrounding the substances that they’re using, the precautions they need to take and the effects being exposed to substances can have on them.
COSHH is relevant to all employers that have a business dealing with the use of harmful substances. It’s there to help the safety of workers and ensure they are protected.
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